De Morgenzon in Stellenbosch owned by Johannesburg-based high-flyers Wendy and Hylton Appelbaum burst onto the scene when the maiden 2005 vintage of its Chenin Blanc made by Teddy Hall acting in a consultant capacity was rated 5 Stars in Platter’s 2007. In a word, it was an opulent wine (residual sugar of 6.8g/l and eight months in French oak, 100% new) that was impossible to ignore.
Along came the 2006 vintage, which collected a rating of 4 Stars. “As seamless, if not as show-stopping as stellar 2005,” was the verdict in Platter’s 2008. “Not quite as vivacious, distinctive as previous but should age well.”
Drinking the 2006 last night, it is difficult to imagine how the 2005 could be any more expressive. This was a seriously bling wine. I don’t often mention colour in tasting notes, but this has a deep, almost luminous yellow with a green tinge about it. A very forthcoming nose with all manner of aromas including dried apricot, melon, honey, vanilla and some butteriness. The palate was very rich with great texture and soft but sufficient acidity.
Exceptional? On one level, yes – it met all the criteria to be considered thus in terms of the shared aesthetic that wine enthusiasts apply to judge wine. However, there is something about how this wine was made that feels pre-meditated rather than instinctive, a bit overly elaborate which ultimately makes it difficult to drink. You suspect a lighter touch will come with time and then De Morgenzon Chenin will be truly great.
Results of the 2011 Wine magazine Chenin Blanc Challenge will be announced on Thursday 20 January. Visit this website and Winemag.co.za for coverage.